Friday, September 30, 2011

Codependence checklist

- Feel most comfortable when they are giving
- Find needy people to take care of
- Try to please others instead of themselves
- Have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility
- Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem
- Wonder why people don't do for them
- Feel victimized by the "selfishness" of others
- Try to be all things to all people all the time
- Have difficulty saying "no" and/or setting boundaries
- Feel empty and bored when they are not involved in a crisis
- Seek out chaos and then complain about it
- Get angry when somebody refuses their help or doesn't take their advice
- Tend of have a self-esteem that is connected to "doing"
- Try to prove that they are good enough to be loved
- Are afraid of making mistakes
- Are easily offended by other's "rudeness" or "insincerity" or "uncaring attitude"
- Can become self-righteous with phrases like "I would NEVER do that...."
- Try to be perfect, and expect others to be perfect
- Have self-blame and put themselves down
- Must be in control at all time.

That came from here.  I have to cringe because that is so me.
I always feel confused when people say I have a lot of triggers.  I'm not even sure what that means, exactly.  I know that I can be bopping along reading a sweet letter from a mother to a daughter about Santa and burst into tears because all in a flash I think of my mother.  I think that my mother didn't actually get to have visits from Santa when she was a child.  The first Christmas stocking my mother ever got in her life she got from me when I was 16.  I was absolutely horrified when I understood that she had been filling stockings for her children for 29 years and she had never gotten one herself, ever.  My dad was an asshole; he got one every year of their 15 year marriage.

I have been married for five years.  Somehow I doubt that their marriage was like mine five years in.  For my mom and dad that is when Jimmy was being born.  All of my mom's stories about my dad are tinged with bitterness, so I can't get a straight answer about anything.  He was an addict, I'm sure it was up and down.  Noah doesn't seem to think I am an addict.  I suppose that's good.  Things are up and down anyway.

It's interesting how music is universal.  Yes, that's a topic shift.  You can listen to a song and feel identification with it no matter how close your actual life experiences are.  At the moment I've got Journey, "Don't Stop Believing" and if ever there was a song that lots of people feel inspired by... even while they know they are drowning in their own cheese.  This song is increasingly popular again.  And it's not because it's a great song.  It's cheesy and pretty silly.  But it's fun and it's how I find my pleasure.  I have a play list called "healing".  I haven't listened to much else in the past year.  Periodically I will hear a song on the radio and add it.  It's four hours long.  These are the songs I listen to over and over again.  I like songs like Dolly Parton's "Better Get To Livin'".

This is a mixed thing because unless I only pick music that has been written in the past ten years... I have associations with my early life with most songs I would pick.  I sit back and think of driving with my mom.  I must have been six or seven.  It was before the accident.  We were singing along with the Four Tops on the tape player.  Same Old Song.  "It's the same old song, but with a different meaning since you've been gone."  I had no negative associations with music then.  We were singing along loudly.  The windows were down and there was a nice warm breeze.

I remember stretching back in the seat, back in those days six year olds sat in the front seat without a seat belt.  Shhh don't tell anyone.  The seat belt law was passed when I was four.  I found out about it in school when I was eight.  I read my mother the riot act and I started insisting on wearing one.  I also made her wear one.  That is why the government wants children in public school, just saying.

I looked at my mom while she sang along.  She was so cheerful and happy.  She was hardly ever happy.  She was usually sad.  If that song came on the radio while I was on the freeway I might cause an accident because I would cry so hard.  I miss my mom.

Recently I sent my friend this article on gaslighting.  In further conversation with him I made a point that I realized is the point for me.  I'm tired of having to defend my arguments basic validity.  Not that I think I shouldn't have to argue my side of the issue.  I'm tired of having to bring in a long list of sources before I am "allowed" to have my side.  Before I have proven that my side is an acceptable side for someone to hypothetically have.  This. 

What does it mean to be triggered?  Isn't everything all connected for everyone?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

High Maintenance

I'm not uniformly high maintenance across the board.  And things shift a lot over time.  Once a boy I was interested in told me that I was "high maintenance but low drama".  He could handle one date a month with me.  We never got very close.

Being high maintenance is very different based on how you do it.  I need a lot of intense emotional support.  I need to be told things many times.  I need to be touched or not touched immediately and without question based on my whims.  I have a lot of control over what conversational topics happen around me because if I start getting angry for some reason I tend to escalate.  I manage that by walking away from things that anger me or people who are engaging in conversation I don't want to hear.  I don't mean that I tell everyone to shut up.  I just mean that if I can't handle what is being discussed I go sit in a different room.  It's not the easiest thing to live with.  I have a lot of "systems" in place that make perfect sense in my head and I can't explain them to other people because I know them in a kinesthetic fashion.

I am extremely particular but Sarah says not outside the normal range.  That kind of weirds me out.  Really?  Other people have as many stupid little mandatory preferences as me?  You know When Harry Met Sally?  You remember how she ordered food?  I'm not quite as fussy as her... but almost.  Although I'm less fussy about food.

I'm sensitive.  I wish I wasn't.  I wish I didn't have a sensitive nerve ending in my body.  Sometimes my skin is hyper sensitive and small touches hurt.  Sometimes if I am not in the mood for a conversation I feel intense sadness or anger because I have some tangential thought process running tandem that is really unhappy.  The stupidest things can trigger me into devastation and feeling like I am alone in the world and everyone around me would dance on my grave.  It's often hard to believe that someone like me could have any worth at all.

That's high maintenance to live with.  It's fucking irritating.  Especially because I go back and forth between these terrible lows and feeling like I'm a lot better than those other schmucks, so what's the problem?  ("Better" being defined as not having whatever problem I'm reading about on the internet.  If you set a low bar, you can always achieve it.)

I'm not sure, but I would guess that one of the hardest things to live with is how quickly I expect people to make decisions or act upon things I have said.  Because if people don't respond/acknowledge/move fast enough I whirl in place and stomp off to do whatever it was I was talking about by myself while muttering.  It's not a very nice thing to do and I try to stop myself.  I whirl away because it's hard for me to ask for things sometimes.  I should probably ask for some kind of visual acknowledgement that they heard and understood my speech so that I know to stand and wait while they think.  Right now the problem is that I state what I want, don't see immediate interest, and I feel like okfineI'lldoitmyselfit'snotabigdealanyway.  It is a little huffy, but it's huffy in a "I don't want to be a burden and I feel like I should have done this for myself without mentioning it anyway.  I mentioned it because sometimes you leap up to "do things" for me and it feels nice but if you aren't in that space I'll just go do it."  But it never comes out value neutral.  I always look pissed.

The anger.  The anger is probably the hardest thing to live with.  I get angry so easily over such stupid things.  I let it go quickly and I apologize profusely, constantly because I know it is inappropriate to get as angry as I do.  But a lot of my anger is justified.  And I apologize for that too.  Because I've been told over and over, "Wow.  You get angry a lot."  Because I feel like anger is wrong and bad and I should stop feeling anger.  People comment on me being angry.  That must mean I am inappropriately angry, right?

I feel shamed by comments on my anger.  If people can see it I am failing at life.  I feel this enormous pressure to develop a cheerful mask.  Repression be thy name.  I don't really want to have to repress my anger.  I want to not feel it.  I want to not get so angry over tiny little things.  I'm aware that a lot of the problem is sleep deprivation and stress.  I can't even tell if I get angry at a normal level.  I don't know.  I can't tell how often any one else gets angry.

Except for Noah.  I freak right the fuck out if he gets angry.  It's been very difficult for us to work towards a space where I can let him be angry and not make it about me.  I still have to check in about the fact that he's not angry with me at a particular time.  And then I want to fix whatever is upsetting him.  It's very codependent of me.

And you know how much I write about myself?  Noah talks about this shit for hours and hours and hours and years.  It's frankly creepy that anyone other than me has this much interest in me.  I'm so keeping him.  Noah repeatedly, adamantly gives me approval for everything I am and most everything I do.  He is a fount of affirmation and support.  It is very important that my support network be well supported.  I'm trying to do a better job at supporting them.

I feel like we are getting a lot closer to a balance.  Things are a lot better with Sarah here.  I haven't had an exchange with Shanna I would call 'nasty' since the train coming down from Scotland.  I think that a tirade going on about two minutes longer than necessary about train manners in a bad tone of voice after a month of travel is forgivable.  I have been rude, and I've apologized and she seemed perfectly ok with the apologies.  That goes both ways.  Her behavior has been up and down, but I feel like it's all been handled well.  I'm taking time by myself a lot more and I'm a lot more calm because of it.  The smoking helps, but I spend a lot of time out here not smoking just because I dislike the physical sensation.  I'm just hiding.  I'm just intimidated by the intensity of being mom.

I'm sensitive and my kids frankly freak me the fuck out sometimes.  It's hard to enjoy ice cream if you are allowed to eat nothing but ice cream.  I mean, my kids are more meat and potatoes.  I can handle eating them every single day.  Now there's a metaphor.  But even though I want meat and potatoes every single day I want meals in the day where I'm eating something else.  Variety is good.

I used to think I was an extrovert who was forced into solitude.  I'm beginning to see that I am an introvert with occasional social needs.  It's kind of a weird identity shift.  At this point in my life I think of every single person I talk to in terms of how much of my energy they will drain.  Sorry, friends.  I love you!  That's why I spend the energy I do.  A friend is coming over this morning.  Hopefully she won't read this until after she has been at my house.  I'm honestly kind of freaked out by having her come over today.  Her son is very energetic and I've been trying to get Shanna to be slightly less messy in the house.  Throwing things outside is great.  Inside.... not my favorite.  I know that the right thing to do is to ask them to help clean up during the visit.  We'll see how that goes.  Ugh.  I'm just so tired.  I don't want the extra mess.  Fuss.  Whine.  But I want to talk to her.  Ack.  Personal time is over.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Mom Pledge

I was reading up on the Band, because they matter.  And I foundThe Mom Pledge.   Text is:

The Mom Pledge
I am a proud to be a mom. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my online activities. I can lead by example.
I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, "right" way to be a good Mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family.
I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind.
I stand up against cyber bullying. My online space reflects who I am and what I believe in. I will not tolerate comments that are rude, condescending or disrespectful.
I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.
I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior.
I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference. 

Part of what makes this kind of thing so weird is, what is "rude, condescending or disrespectful" according to this code?  I'm afeared that an awful lot of what I say would be one of those words.  I'm not trying to be rude.  I reign in my condescension as hard as I am able.  I'm afraid it pops out occasionally when I'm not looking.  People often think that me questioning them at all is disrespectful.  Pointing out inconsistencies in a story is disrespectful.  On one hand I want to say, "That sounds great!"  But I'm afraid it's just one more way that I feel like I can't hold up the original spirit of the thing so I don't join.  I'm a snarky bastard.  Most of my friends are.

I don't really think of myself as a "Mommy blogger" despite the fact that I have crotch droppings and mention them here.  I feel like I write about my mothering shit the same way I write about me just existing.  I happen to be a mother.  But it's not all that much of what I want to think about during my off-time, you know?  I have to write about being a mother in so far as I'm trying to hack the experience.  I am trying to dissect it to see how it works so that I can put it back together in a different way.

Inviting Sarah to live with me is part of mothering.  Even though Sarah is inconsistently available at times she is still stable in her moods.  When she is here she is here.  Part of being a mother is recognizing that children need to have people in their life who are rock steady dependable in their affect.  I'm not and I never will be.  I talk about me not being steady.  I talk about how to cope with that.  And I fucking well moved someone in who was stable.  Noah is also more emotionally stable than me.  I worry.  Specifically, to pull from that last link:

"This handling of mental illness (there were several negative examples) tends to present it as something out of control, scary, and dangerous. And also very, very selfish. Mentally ill people in pop culture are often deeply self-absorbed, wrapped up in themselves and their disorders, which means they have no time for anyone else. When it comes to parents, pop culture implies that mentally ill parents are too broken and damaged to possibly provide the level of care and support their children need. When this is the understanding of mental illness that many people have, it sets dangerous precedents.
Finding positive depictions of mentally ill parents is an uphill struggle, let alone depictions of parents who are members of Mad Pride movement, who may reject conventional treatment approaches to mental illness. For people with mental illness who want to be or are parents, pop culture provides ample reminders that this is a bad idea and should be reconsidered. For people without mental illness, pop culture provides ample judgment fodder and this can be a big problem when those people are decision-makers, the people who, for example, get to evaluate whether a parent should be allowed to keep a child after a report to child services expressing concern, or who sit in judgment on a jury."

I worry a lot.  I worry about talking about my mental illness because I don't think I can get away with claiming to myself that I don't have mental illness.  There are legitimate names for my experiences.  The whole thing can be codified as a case study.  But it's my life.  I speak overly harshly sometimes.  I don't have the self control not to.  My option is to never speak again.  *I* feel like my behavior is perceived as being outside the bounds of that pledge up there.  *I* feel like my behavior is perceived as "rude, condescending or disrespectful."  I don't mean to be though.  This truly is my polite voice.  I am what my life has made me.  I am frequently harsh in tone.  I do it meaning well.  I am not trying to be a didactic asshole.

Bad situations in my life have been really bad.  When I say that I was at an important crossroads, I was often making a choice that resulted in a more dramatic shift than most people have as an option.  That's convoluted.  Not very many people can talk to a rape crisis clinician for five minutes and be told, "You should be dead."  That's happened to me when I have talked to a lot of different people.  My choices kept me alive.  I chose life.  Over and over.  That sounds melodramatic and I want to punch myself for using that particular cliché.  It's true though.  I self harm because it is choosing life.  It is choosing to allow myself a small amount of relief from the pain rather than actually relieving the pain.  I got away from my father.  It was hard.  It took fighting off my family, but I did it.  I got away from my family.  I could be another drug addict loser.  Instead I'm a drug addict with a functional life.  I am a drug addict with elaborate checks in place to ensure that I am not permitted to be erratic around my children.  My drug addiction is what allows me to be consistent.  Without it I am swinging too hard right now.

But sometimes I come in here to the internet and I vent my frustration.  MDC is really hard to read sometimes.  The problem is that my life choices have been between really really bad things that seemed ok to outsiders and things that looked bad to outsiders but was actually great for me.  My whole view on life choices is skewed far off to the left from everyone else.  For most of my life if you had offered me the chance to die on any given day, I would have taken it.

I had children because I choose life.  When people ask me why someone like me had kids, and I get asked, I say that biological compulsion is a big deal and I was a lot more stable then.  I don't say, "Fuck you for implying that I am too broken to have worth on this planet you fucking asshole."  I had children because I desperately want to spend most of my time with them.  Because I like seeing them change day by day.  Because even when Shanna or Calli are doing something that makes me want to put my fist through a wall I would cut my hand off before I would slap them in the face.  Because they are mine.  The first people who love me without any hint of judgment.  That will come later.  They will judge me.  They will judge my behavior as a mother.  They will judge me as a person.  It's my responsibility to make the choices that will allow us to have a good relationship.

I don't accept it at face value that I will have a relationship with my grown up children.  I'm aware that there are conditions on such love.  It's hard.  Do you know why people stay in relationships with their abusers?  Because if you walk away from that love, what will you do about the aching loss it creates in your life?  I had children and I went around and deliberately chose adults to help me raise them.  Adults who are just as intent as I am that our children be kept safe and healthy.  Adults who hold me accountable for my behavior.  I'm not actually taking the risk that other people think I am taking.

If anything I am too hard on myself and I demand an unhealthy amount of 24/7 cheer from myself.  It's getting better.  Normal, healthy people have mood variation.  Right now I do not get consistent sleep and I haven't in a year.  I have outsourced feeding me to other people and that's a mixed bag.  They aren't actually aware that I stopped tracking that because I'm kind of a shitty person.  If I don't tell them that I have abdicated responsibility to them then I get to be mad at them a lot when they fuck up.  Control games are awesome.

This is hard to talk about.  Because I can describe it that way, as a control game, but it's not like I'm experiencing it that way.  I focus on taking care of my kids.  I get them through their day.  They eat at regular intervals.  I uhhh don't like a lot of the food they like to eat.  I have texture issues.  It's not even that I don't like those foods.  If someone else took those foods and cooked them till they were mush I'd cheerfully eat it.  Shanna and Calli like crunchy things.  That feels bad in my mouth.  I usually come in and get food for them quickly and then get to the point where I probably should shift gears and make food for me... only I get distracted and do something else.  I "forget" to eat.  It's partially a consequence of my weird picky food preference issues.

When Noah or Sarah want to eat then there is pretty much always a way for me to feel like something I want in my mouth is an option.  They like things that are spiced closer to how I want it (I like slightly less salt than Sarah and slightly more salt than Noah) and it works.  Even if it pings me as being slightly over or slightly under salted... that's a small sin.  That's how food works when Sarah or Noah is cooking.  I can eat it.

For example, I can't handle eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches very often.  The oil from the peanut butter stays in my mouth and bothers all the other flavors for days.  And the jam often tastes too sweet.  But I can't handle eating peanut butter plain because the flavor is too intense and it makes me feel icki.  On some days I can handle eating nuts plain.  Most days the idea of crunching a nut between my teeth will give me shivers down my spine like nails on a chalk board.

But given how many things I feel I must do in a day... I don't want to go through the effort of making a meal for Shanna and a meal for Calli and a meal for me.  Given that my meals are a lot more work.  I just don't eat.  Because I'm not really worth it.  But Noah and Sarah think that feeding me is worthwhile.  Hey!  I know if I wait a bit longer Sarah will want to eat and it will be easier to just make one mess for the both of us and...  It works until it doesn't work.  When it doesn't work I generally get pretty grumpy.  And that's how a lot of my self regulation goes.

Ok, this is a problem.  I need to fix it.  It's hard to get to the point where it feels like I have any more ability to do "care" for a body.  Even my own.  I get really angry with myself for how long it takes me to poop now that I have kids.  That's weird.  The whole gestating/labor thing changed my plumbing in ways I am not appreciating.  And it doesn't help that we are eating so many vegetables that my digestive system is on protest.  I don't believe all the people who say this is a healthy diet.  I never had to poop this much when I was living on top ramen.  That has to be easier on my system.  Ahem.

People are whole systems.  I'm kind of a mommy blogger.  I'm kind of a mental health blogger.  Kind of feminist.  I'm just me.  I don't think I am going to post the Mom Pledge thing on my site permanently.  I will agree in my head that I should follow those rules.  I will think they correctly describe my approach to life.  But I won't publicly join a group about it.  That sounds like behavior policing to me.  I can't handle it.

Anxiety, spike.

Today I am going to go see a psychiatrist.  The medical group I work with made it very difficult to get this appointment.  I was interrogated by multiple people and it was very obvious that if I didn't answer in a way they liked I was going to be locked up whether I like it or not.  Self-harming is illegal, you know.  It's pretty terrifying to me that I have to be careful in how I word things or I won't be coming home today.  The terror is enough that I kind of want to cancel the appointment and continue to hide in my house forever smoking pot.  At least right now I don't have to worry about someone else deciding they know what is best for me and forcing my lock-step through their program again.

For me the institution and the group home and public school were all pretty much cut from the same cloth.  Obviously there were degrees of seriousness for how they slapped people down for stepping out of line.  For the whole god damn rest of my life "help" means people doing things to me against my will.  That is what help is.  It doesn't matter if I am crazy or sane, it doesn't influence how people treat me.  Do you know what does influence how people treat me?  How much they actually listen to me before they start acting.

I don't know how to make any part of my life or experiences or needs or whatever into brief little sound bites that keep me out of trouble.  That is a lot of what other people seem to have that I don't.  It's not that no one else had anything shitty happen to them.  It's that no one else seems to have diarrhea of the mouth and the compulsive desire to tell everyone in the world, "My dad raped me and I still can't sleep at night because of it.  It's not so bad really.  I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a world where I don't wake up at 3 am unable to go back to sleep because I am no longer stoned and I can't bear the nightmares.  Luckily I went to bed at 7 last night.  I got in a lot of sleep.  It seems to be the only way to hack the system.

I am afraid that if I tell the truth today I won't be coming home.  I have responsibilities.  I have people to care for.  An institution isn't a "break" it is a horrible rending and tearing of not allowing me to have contact with the few people in the world who love me and are nice to me.  Please God, I never want to be in an institution again.  Never.  Never.  I am really afraird of talking to a psychiatrist today.  I know that if I'm honest about how I have been since April they will talk to me about my "options" by which tell me what they are considering forcing me to do.  Because the minute I walk into this doctors care I no longer get to have the final say about my mental health.

I feel like I am about to puke on the floor.  I have six hours of terror to get through until I meet this doctor.  How this goes depends on the psychiatrist I see.  If this is an open minded person who believes there are many roads to an acceptably good life, I might get some actual help.  If this person believes that all people must be like _____ or they need "help" I might be walking into an actually dangerous situation for me.  And I don't know in advance what kind of person this is.  And dear god the power she will weird.  I'm actually more scared because it is a woman.  Despite the fact that every sexual assault was perpetuated by men, I still feel much more terrified of women.  Women are meaner.  Women hurt other women and girls just so they get the rush of feeling bigger.  I have some issues with women.

I am aware that the most likely result of today is that I will come home with a prescription of some sleep and/or anxiety medication.  I'm willing to bet money that the doctor will be fine.  That I will talk about my horror story of a life, say that I self harm in limited ways because of a life of horror and right now the pressure is simply too much for me to cope with "healthy" coping mechanisms on my own and I need help.  This doctor would probably be ok with drugging me into a zombie state for the rest of my life if I need that to stop being angry all the time.  I don't want that either.

What do I want?  What do I hope for?  If I don't know I can't ask.  I want to sleep better, longer, and in the middle of the night rather than through the evening.  I miss Noah on nights I go to bed with Calli.  I want to be able to control my anger.  I want to not hide at home because I am terrified people will dislike me and be mean to me.  I am so afraid of people being mean to me.  Sometimes I think I have picked the wrong friends groups.

People I know hurt my feelings a lot.  I'm really over sensitive.  I try hard to keep it as just my problem because I know I am over sensitive.  But that means I don't go out.  Because people hurt me casually without noticing.  I notice.  I stop going out.  This is the flip side of "blunt".  An awful lot of things that people say attached to the phrase, "I'm just being honest" are awful.  Awful.  Awful.  "I don't think you are a bad person or anything, I just think it is a sign that you have no respect for yourself if you have slept with so many people."  I don't think that is true.  If it was true, thank you for telling me that you think I treat me like a piece of shit because I don't have the same attitude about sex that you have.  Obviously us whores are lower life forms.

I do speak negatively about women who have sex with the guys I sleep with.  Not to put them down, but rather I refer to us collectively as whores.  I've noticed lately that I am inadvertently thinking negative-ish things about women I really have no negative thoughts by.  Especially over the past three years, I just don't have negative thoughts about the women Noah sleeps with.  D is not a whore.  She's a very nice lady who sometimes sleeps with my husband when the idea of sex makes me cranky.  The only exchange is stress relief.  That's not being a whore.  It's being an unconventionally awesome friend.

I have some mixed feelings about sex.  I can't imagine why.

That last sentence makes me smile.  People like to talk about the things that are important to them.  Most people seem to find books, movies, their kids, their jobs, and their hobbies to be the extent of what they do with their talking.  I'm important to me.  Trying to figure out how to hack my system and behave how I want to behave is my hobby.  Other people seem to not have the road blocks to existing that I have.  I can get things done.  I can be productive.  I can even seem happy.  But I have to rig the game.

I can visit with friends.  I can deal with all the stuff that needs to be done to keep two little kids growing like weeds and healthy.  I can't go meet new people by myself.  I can't handle things that feel high pressure.  New people are terrifying.  New people represent this constant low level risk of nastiness.  Either I will be stupid enough to say something about myself and they will be disgusted and not like me or I will be stupid and comment on their life choices in a way that is inappropriate.  The internet is not doing wonders for my social skills.

There is a local meet up group for home schoolers.  Sarah tried to go to one of their events yesterday and missed them in the crowd.  The organizer sent me this email asking if Sarah is.... part of my family?  Because then she can just be accepted into the group instead of being a provisional member.  They've met me and the kids and if she's attached to us she is obviously not a predator or creepy person.  They don't have to meet her first if she is attached to us.

That honestly makes me feel weird.  I told her, "Yes Sarah is part of our family.  I'm sorry we don't get to more events.  That is when the baby naps.  We are hoping that now that she has crossed into toddlerhood that naps will drift and we will be able to come to a lot more events."  That's a good way of not sounding like a crazy fuck up.  "Actually I usually skip your events because there is this one cunt I am afraid of meeting up with and it keeps me at home shaking with terror."  You know that friend who dumped me with the nasty dear Jane email?  She's active all over the bay area with anything vaguely crunchy and parenting.  I don't really want to run into someone who will tell me that I am such a bad parent she doesn't want to know me.

All of these things are related and combined in my head.  People are terrifying.  At any random moment people who are staunchly my "friend" will turn on me and start telling me how bad or gross or wrong or... something.  I'm inappropriate.  I should be kept away from decent people because I am so bad bad bad.  That's why I am so afraid of the institution.  It feels like just one more way that society wants "people like me" to be eliminated.  If I can't control myself well enough to pretend that I am just like everyone else they are going to put me in a place where I will god damn get control.

It's hard to explain to people what the institution was like for me.  You can't go to the bathroom without permission.  You can't eat without permission.  When food is put in front of you, you are required to eat all of it or you get punished.  A lot of the girls in psych wards are there for eating disorders.  As a result every person there is given the same food and you have to eat every bite whether you like it or not.  I was told very clearly that if I refused food I would be strapped to a table and a feeding tube would be inserted.  That was what I was told when I said I didn't want to eat the scrambled eggs because they were too soft and I thought they tasted bad.  All of my life I have hated scrambled eggs that were too soft.  I like them burned.  I like them absolutely hard.  The institution made them really runny and slimy in a huge batch.  They wouldn't even microwave the fucking things for me to cook them more.  The employee told me that I had to eat all of it or I would be forced to eat through a tube.  When I started eating with tears running down my face and I was actively fighting my gag reflex... the employee smiled and called me a good girl.

That's fucked up.  I'm sorry.  That is not about helping me be "better".  That is about helping to break my spirit and force me to conform to someone else's idea of being a good person.  Seriously?  My mental health is related to me being able to choke down under cooked eggs?  Why in the fuck was that important?  Why was that a battle?  Why did I have to eat or risk more invasive medical procedures?  Why should I believe anything other than Western Medicine is Evil.  Giving that much power to people is wrong.  No one should have been able to do that to me.

I'm sorry, but suicide and self-harming should not be punished the way they are.  Do you know why people are punished this way?  Because it is disruptive to society for people to be unpredictable.  People who commit suicide or self-harm are likely to be different and cause waves.  We certainly must stomp that right the fuck out.  No disruptions of routine.  Everything.Must.Flow.Like.Clockwork.  Or you are bad.  And we will force you back into line.

You can't eat when you want to.  You can't go to the bathroom when you want to.  You can't sleep when you want to.  You can't play games when you want to.  You can't listen to music when you want to.  You can't decide who you talk to.  You can't decide what you eat.  You can't decide what clothes you wear.  You can't decide how to treat your body--your decisions are substandard.

That's what an institution is like.  You are expected to slowly shuffle from activity to activity (eating is an activity) exactly how and when they say.  You cannot question anything.  You cannot have a body that likes to eat every four hours instead of eating at 6:30, 12:30 and 6:30.  You cannot have any privacy in your head.  If an employee (it probably is only supposed to be the therapists, but the orderlies are assholes too) decides to start interrogating you about what you are thinking you had better have an acceptable answer.

When I was institutionalized the story was that I had a rough life but no one knew what that meant.  They knew I moved around a lot.  They knew that my brother had been hit by a car.  There was some vague talk that maybe some sexual abuse had happened.  I hadn't told anyone about being raped.  Not by anyone.  I went into the institution and was told to lay out all my secrets on a table for them to judge and decide about.  Of course I didn't tell them shit.  They were forcing me to eat runny eggs and walk from room to room under their command.  There was no safety.  There was no room for me to exist at all.  I'm just glad it was only two weeks.

I can play the game if I have to.  Of course I can.  I wouldn't be alive and outside of jail if it wasn't true.  But I break the social contract in a lot of ways.  A lot of ways that are easy to ignore when I am at home by myself in the garage.  No one will hurt me here.  No wonder Alex's therapist said I am like the crazy ass Vietnam vet who stockpiles food and ammunition.  I don't think our larder is especially bursting with stores and I don't own a gun.  But I do very careful limit how much I deal with people.  I only invite a few people to my house and I don't go out often.  You never know who is going to be nasty to you.

I remember not caring about the fact that people judged me badly.  I mean, I can deal with the random public and I do.  I go to the grocery store and have pleasant interactions.  I can take my kids to the zoo or museum and we do fine and have fun.  I can't go to a big party with a bunch of "friends".  I can't go meet a medical practitioner because this person will abruptly have "authority" over me.

I'm tired of feeling like I am wrong or bad just for existing.  For saying the things I say.  For taking up the space I take up.  Even if I do go to an event I feel this constant pressure to sit in a corner and not say anything awkward or uncomfortable.  This is hard.  If someone says, "So what have you been up to lately?" it's a huge anxiety bomb.  Well I've spent most of 2011 having a mental breakdown and I wrote about it on my blog extensively.  Want to hear about my long list of rape experiences?  No, no one wants to hear that.  But it's what I want to talk about.  So I stay home by myself and I write.  I can't offend anyone if I am writing alone in a room.

Cue chorus of snickers.  Ok, if people are offended by what I write when I am alone in a room I don't feel much responsibility for that.  Stop reading then you stupid asshole.  No one is dragging you to a computer and chaining you there until you read all my inane drivel.  My whining.  I'm not feeling good about myself today.  I'm really afraid of this doctor.  I'm really afraid that this doctor has the power to say, "You know how hard you are working on being a stable mother?  Well... someone like you shouldn't have had kids and we are going to protect your kids from you."  I have to be careful what I say in front of this doctor or I risk CPS.  I'm afraid that it doesn't matter that I only self harm behind closed doors away from my children.  I'm afraid I am going to be told that someone like me is too toxic to share the same air.  It's for everyones good that I be removed from the home.

I was often taken away from my family as a child "for my own good".  I was always sent back after a while because there aren't enough tolerance for me anywhere else either.  Difficult.  That's me.  Always have been.  Always thinking I get to have an opinion and preferences.  Always thinking that it matters what I want.  Stupid me.

There are few things in my life more terrifying than the institution.  I know it would be a different one this time.  A "better" one.  It wouldn't really be better though.  It would just be the system trying to convince me that as long as they don't force me down on a table we are all doing what we want to do.  It's a lie.  Me doing what I want to do involves hiding in my house and beating my head on the concrete floor when I can't handle the anxiety.  Ok, that's not really what I want to do.  But I prefer beating my head at home to beating my head in the institution and I wouldn't stop just because they told me to.

In fact if a group of doctors told me I had to stop or else... all of a sudden my skull would be covered with scabs because I would do it a lot harder.  Or else what?  What are you going to do to me that is going to be worse than what has happened to me?  Do I really need more people hurting me?  Do I really need more people trying to impose their will upon me?  That is how to make me a healthy person? For yet more people to try to control me when they don't know what happened to me?

Coping mechanisms can be good and useful and necessary at one time and become less good over time.  Self harming has kept me able to function and go about life.  It *is* a stress relief.  I have done a lot of good in my life.  Why is any of it negated because I had to self harm in order to have the focus to work? Why?  I can see telling me that there is a better way and offering me other options.  That's awesome.  I want to have other fucking options.  I'm tired of my head hurting.  But I can't just find this self control out of thin air.  I'm out of will power.  There isn't enough lemonade in the world. 

I don't self harm every day.  Unless you count pot, which is kind of a weird thing for me.  On days when I am stoned I don't self harm at all.  I haven't beat my head against the floor in almost a month, actually.  Not since the day of the party.  That morning I lost it and I haven't since.  Having all those people come over was... challenging.  It went well and everyone had fun.  I still spent most of the time freaked out waiting for something awful to happen.

Since then I say, "Sarah I need to tap out" and she says, "Ok!" and I go sit down and smoke and think for thirty minutes.  Then I'm cheerful again.

I want to work with a psychiatrist because I don't know much about mood stabilizing drugs.  I need to learn.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I got a question!

Picture me doing my happy Snoopy dance.  Ahem.

I'm afraid that I don't know how to talk to people. I'm too blunt.

Do you prefer that other people interact with you in this way? Directly, I mean; sometimes that comes off as blunt. Personally, I find it easier than guessing most of the time, but I weigh that against the discomfort of saying/asking right out. What do you think?

The honest answer is I want people to be blunt with weird verbal ticks where they remind me that they are being blunt so I shouldn't over react emotionally.  What I mean is, when Noah is about to hand me my ass he says: "I don't have a good way to say this.  So I'm going to use a bad one and I hope you can understand what I am getting at."  That's my cue that he is about to say something that sounds like an attack but he honest-to-goodness doesn't mean it as an attack so please don't freakin yell at him.  At least that is what I hear.  When he says that I cock my head over to one side and listen intently and I can be rational no matter how much I am freaking out.  It's handy.

But yes, of course I want people to be blunt.  I like it when people randomly announce what they are thinking, because most of the time I am honestly curious.  I wish like hell I could sit inside someone else's brain for a day and listen to the random things that go around.  It's great when people tell me.

If people have expectations of me, you'd better tell me what they are in blunt ways or I will miss it.  I have all the subtlety of a falling anvil.  So yes, I would say.  Blunt is generally always better than it's opposite, which I consider to be misdirection.  Don't be vague or passive agressive.  Tell me what you want.  Then I can decide if I want to give it to you or not.  I like yes or no questions.

And I'll tell you, as much as I felt pissy in the moment... I'm glad Sarah greeted me with, "The last few days has been over my threshold for alone time with the kids right now and I need to have help with them for a while."  Because now I know for absolute certain she is monitoring her ability to be safe with the kids and now I know what the wall looks like.  I can work with a wall.  If I'm honest I know that if Sarah had been kind of twitchy but hadn't said anything... I probably would have ignored her twitching.  I'm a jerk too.  I have to treat my needs like they are important enough to push for.  No one is volunteering the stuff that fills my needs.  I need to push for more space.  Knowing how far I can push is really important.  I don't want to be a chicken shit and short change myself because I'm afraid that I will ask too much and she won't tell me and start to resent me.  I don't want to live with that fear.  I want to push her to her boundaries so that I can have allllllllllll the space available to me.  Damnit.  She said she is ok with that.  I have to trust her.

Have I mentioned how hard trust is?  I have been struggling like mad since I had kids because I am no longer reliable.  It makes my stomach clench with frustration.  If my kids start melting down as I am trying to put them into the car when I am off to do something social I freak out.  I get into these cycles where I'm convinced that I am going to go to the event and the kids will be assholes and I will feel social pressure from all my anti-kid friends to deal with my little brats and I will then be angry with my kids because they are kids.

My kids are not assholes.  My kids are not brats.  They do push limits because they are trying to find out where they are.  When Shanna feels the wrath of God she backs off of a limit.  But oh boy she likes to find that limit.  Given that the wrath of God mostly involves me breathing hard because I am really angry and trying not to speak and I point to her room... she goes.  But it takes until I am ready to punch her in the face before she backs off.

I'm torn between consternation and delight.  That's MY girl!  I honestly don't want her to stop.  Even though it drives me insane.  I want her to be that person.  I want her to have the courage to push people.  What I mean by the wrath of God is that I want her to go through life rarely having to deal with my minor displeasures.  Mostly I do a lot of disclaimers about how awesome she is and I'm not upset with her I'm upset because blah grown up thing is happening and I'm sorry if I'm short tempered.  I try to buffer my irritation levels as much as possible.  Sometimes she crosses the line and I really don't care that it upsets her when I am fucking pissed off.

Lately she has decided that an awesome game is to hit me in the face with sharp objects, basically as hard as she can.  One can understand why I might object.  After the last time she did it I picked her up ubruptly and moved her off of me while roaring in pain.  It scared the shit out of her.  She started wailing about how I hit her.  I did a lot of rolling my eyes.  I'm sorry kiddo, but picking you up and moving you far enough away that you cannot injure me again while otherwise not touching you and getting my hands off of you as fast as possible is not the same thing as hitting.  I told her that I had not intended to scare her when I yelled but I wasn't going to apologize.  Hitting me in the face isn't ok and I am very upset about it.  Don't do it again.

Then I stomped off.  To me, that's a Wrath of God moment.  It made a huge impression on her.  And I'm glad.  I think parents are allowed to just be human beings.  When someone hits me in the face I get to yell at them to stop it and I don't have to apologize for hurting their feelings.  I did not sign a fucking piece of paper giving up this right just because I had crotch droppings.  I get the feeling from the AP and Gentle Parenting folk that it is bad that I did this.  Yelling Is Violence, they say.

I have to say that I think they can bite me.  I do my utmost to not make yelling a regular habit because it's a really annoying thing to have to live with.  I think that having to live with someone who yells a lot sucks.  It's unpleasant.  I try very hard to keep my volume at a reasonable level.  Yelling when you are in pain is not the same thing.  It's allowed.  It's allowed.  It's allowed.

My dad used to make me be quiet.  I got in trouble if I made noise or moved while he was hurting me.  He would play painful games and the goal was for me to sit as still as a stone while he did it.  That wasn't part of the sexual abuse.  That was casually sitting around in the living room when he visited.

I never have to be silent and take it when someone hurts me again.  I don't.  It doesn't matter that they are kids.  I get to defend my body.

That said, Shanna got lots of cuddles afterwards.  Obviously I am still feeling defensive.  You see, my actions square with my values.  I think that was a reasonable natural consequence of hitting someone in the face.  But I can find people on the internet who would tell me that I am an abusive monster for doing that.  Let me tell you, whenever people accuse me of being an abusive monster I chuckle.  I know what that actually looks like and the pompous windbag who is talking to me doesn't.  I'm afraid of being like them, but I do rationally know that I'm not.  My kids will not have anything like the abuse I received.  Defending yourself when someone hurts you is not abusing them.  It's letting them know that they crossed a big boundary in a way that is a serious problem.  Shanna hasn't done it since.  We kiss and cuddle lots and I'm pretty sure she's confident in my regard for her.

So anyway.  Shanna likes to test boundaries occasionally.  It's pretty clear that she is doing it in a scientific way and there is no malice in her heart.  She is, however, a wild little savage and her scientific experiments frequently suck for me.  When we are out in public reams of people turn and stare.  I feel completely self conscious and judged.  I have no idea what they are thinking.  If people volunteered helpful little thoughts like, "Dear God you have the patience of Job" then I know that people aren't judging me because it does bother me.  I do get nasty little comments about how if I can't control my brats I shouldn't take them out.  Uhh... do you really think I should have complete control over my children?  How do you think that will go for them in life?  I want autonomous little people, thank you ver much, and that means that they have to figure out how to interact with the world.  That means hitting some brick walls of social taboos.  She will need to find out What happens when I whack someone in the face?  That's how she will know not to do it later.  And then she went off to school and on her first day a boy kicked her in the face.

I have to tell you... I wasn't very upset.  I told her, "These things happen.  So, what did you say to him when this happened?"  People hurting your body in ways you don't like just happens.  You have to learn to navigate it.  This seems to be something that my child-free friends were never taught or have forgotten.  When a careening child falls out of orbit they act as if they have been assaulted with acid.  Get over yourself, people.  No, she is not yet a masterful member of the social sphere.  She's fucking three, give her a break.

All that to say, yeah blunt is good.  And maybe I'm ready to go to a kid friendly dance event.  I'll have to find one that is within an hours driving range.  Hm.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More guns, cars, and computers.

(I'm sorry Marisa, I'm trying to make them shorter...)

I just had this big flash where I realized part of what I miss so much about that little sub group.  I found it!  Oh they were so tacky.  So so tacky.  All of those cheesy little tacky things you see in novelty shops?  Collections!  It was frankly adorable.  They were enthusiasts.  They were fans.  They were totally white trashy and they didn't even know it.  They just thought they were Leather.  Which says an awful lot about my vision of white trash.

Hmmm.  That actually says a lot about what I consider white trash.  Biker.  Maybe I should work on defining white trash a bit better so that it is a more useful term.

White trash: (noun) a descriptive phrase for a person who exudes a general sense of glorification of many aspects of poor culture; this person does not necessarily have to be poor.  Generally only applicable to people who can also be described as "redneck", "hick", or "rural".

The problem is that folks can be white trash and totally glorious about it or people can be white trash and abusive.  I think of the munch crowd as being white trashy because there was an active enthusiastic interest in creating things for the hobby.  Which resulted in a lot of piles of stuff left around because they might be useful later.  Lots of fun tawdry boudoir type spaces.  It made me happy then and it makes me happy now.  I feel weird about the fact that a lot of my frustration with my birthday party is because the house isn't what I see in my head.  I think I will be able to have the birthday party I really see in my head when I am 50.  It will take that long before my house matches the picture in my head.

I love this unabashed tacky expression of joy about life.  My house is increasingly tacky and it thrills me to no end.  Tacky is kind of a loaded word.  It's pretty tacky that I stapled cotton batting over the exposed pipes in my garage instead of building some sort of actual cover.  But I think that having a cloud line at the top of the mountains is so awesome.  I'm going to find something to cover the defunct electrical box. I'm sure it will be tacky.  I will probably find some animal to attach to the wall.  Maybe a fake plant.  It will be tacky.  Gloriously tacky.  It's fun.

Guns, cars, and computers

Noah has kind of a chip on his shoulder about munches.  I understand why.  They tend to only be welcoming towards someone if large numbers of people in the crowd want to fuck the new person.  I think that Noah would walk into a munch now and be catnip.  When he was in his early 20's... not so much.  That's how it works for guys though.  I showed up at 18.  There is no meat tastier, than fresh meat.

When I talk about the culture of bdsm I was raised in, it was defined primarily by the munch group I hung out with.  It took a long time before I really understood in the core of me that kink communities are completely different from location to location because the local members create something different in each place.  I feel kind of like a moron for that.  In my location it didn't matter what race, age, gender you were... the desires were all pretty similar.  I didn't understand that we chased away the people who weren't exactly like us.

We had a high bar for entry.  You had to be willing to devote a huge chunk of your life to doing bdsm in order to count as a "real" pervert.  There was a lot a strange overlap with guns, cars, and computers.  You had to be fairly passionately into one or more of those in order to fit in at our munch.  Most of the crew is Libertarian, though basically sane people.  I learned a lot sitting at their knees.  This is decidedly where I formed most of my political opinions because they gave me ways to be uppity towards my family.

I don't even know how to write about them.  Stephen King would want to whap me with a newspaper for that.  You can't reach that point as a writer.  Ok, what do I think of when I think of the munch?  I think of a sea of happy faces.  I remember being the pet/mascot.  I was an indulged child for most of my early time there.  Mostly the crowd is married.  Mostly the crowd is mostly monogamous.  There was a lot of puppy pile bdsm.  I don't know how common that is in other areas.

The Saturday parties were interesting because we all spent so much time together that there was a lot of cross-play amongst friends.  Things like bondage and skilled SM arts were treated like commodities to be shared because there weren't enough partners to go around.  There was a lot of implicit, "Well you played with so and so and I want to be next."  The play was kept non-sexual because then it wasn't about whoring yourself out.  It was sharing skills.  It's a hobby.  It's really not much different than getting together a whole group of friends at a commercial kitchen to share ingredients as you make batches of cookies.  Having that kind of intimacy that is not intimate is kind of weird for me.  I do it very well.  I sometimes wonder if that place at that time was just the only way I felt safe getting touched.  For all that they were "perverts" they were remarkably safe people.

A lot of the thing was the whole crowd was focused on exhibitionism.  Play parties would often involve a couple playing in the middle of the living room while everyone laughed and commented and decided the tone of the play.  There were quite a few heavy masochists in the crowd so the play could be intense physically while still being entirely lighthearted.  This was not an environment for serious edge play or psychological play.  Except when it was.  There were always the ability to steal away and do something more intense.  We did, often.  Knives were quite popular amongst the group.  Not cutting, but scratching and threatening.

It's hard for me to convey how convivial the atmosphere was.  The crowd was more men than women, but it wasn't that unequal feeling to me.  The men were more intensely regular.  The women came and went.  So if you showed up at the munch on a random week it might be 90% men, or it could be 50/50 because all the girls came.  That felt ok to me because the women were there most of the time.  It was always safe.  No one else was under 30.  Many had kids.  Some of them--I never ever met their kids.  They kept their children 100% separated from most scene people.  You had to earn access to their kids over many years of good behavior.  I fucking respected them.  Notice how I never earned access to their kids?  I was not good at good behavior.

I was indulged universally in my inappropriate acting out.  Some of the women tried to tactfully mentor me on how to get along better in life but I ignored it.  The guys encouraged me heartily.  It was all pretty harmless shit.  I liked to sit on laps and snuggle.  I did a lot more grinding than was strictly appropriate.  No one minded one little bit.  We would do mini-scenes in the coffee shop.  We shouldn't have been doing it in public because there were random people there.  It was fun.  I don't feel very guilty.   I do, however, feel like I don't know how to interact with those people very well without falling into those behavior patterns.  If I want to stop acting like that... I can't talk to those people any more.

When I broke up with Tom all of a sudden I started getting a different kind of interest.  Actual serious interest.  I ran like a scared rabbit.  All of a sudden these weren't the gentle friends I had been doing light social play with.  They were potential sex partners and that scared the shit out of me.  I didn't want to have to have sex with all of them.  So I left the group.  From the cheap seats I see that not one of those men would have pressured me for sex.  They would have asked, once, and forever more tried to make due appreciating what I was willing to offer freely.  By and large they are timid men.

When I think about my assholes with great affection it is funny how many of them I met at the Wednesday munch.  This is where I learned geek culture.  It isn't much like the geek culture Noah talks loudly about.  They talk about computers, sure.  But they spend equal amounts of time talking about guns, cars, and politics really.  But the politics are interesting so I tend to leave it out of my bitching.  I probably ranted more than a hundred times how tired I was of hearing about guns, cars, and computers.  So in order to distract them from boring conversations I would remind them that they were at a bdsm munch now talk about something more interesting.  I would end up being passed from lap to lap as they talked about what they would do to me.  It was great fun.  A very predictable game.

Except when it wasn't.  I learned who was safe and who wasn't.  I felt like Tom gave me a layer of protection.  The whole group was tortured by not having sex.  Only a few of them were more desperate acting in how they dealt with that.  In all the years I hung out there we never had any whisper of actual abuse.  In retrospect I believe that this group of people really did find a safe and supporting environment to be kind of weird.  Sure we all egged each other on, but we didn't do extreme things mostly.  There was a lot of encouragement to find where your actual limit was.

Bdsm was something to treat as an enthusiastic physical hobby.  You practiced your skills by yourself to hone them early on.  You were expected to take it seriously and do it well so that you could have something to be proud of.  In tangent Tom and I were part of the national convention circuit.  It feels kind of funny to say that, but it's true.  We traveled to a lot of events and did spectacular public play.  I was very young and he was in his 30's and doing well in business.  We were a striking couple and we had a lot of fun together.  Our play was show stopping.  In public we did suspension whenever possible and took over as much space as we could.  Tom was constantly on the search for hard points higher than our ceiling.  Ostensibly the reason we did it in public so much more than in private was because it isn't as fun to only barely get off the ground.  Fetishists are weird.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm the one who negotiated access to mumblemumble so that we could do a suspension that got me 75' off the ground.  We did do things in private if they had enough brag value.  There are lots of pictures.  What play we did in private was done mostly so that it could be photographed.  So he could look at/think about it while masturbating.  Did I mention we didn't have sex much?  I really struggled with that.  My sexuality was constantly being used in a way that didn't involve me.  I was getting off--Tom masturbated me constantly.  But I didn't get to have intimacy with my orgasms.  I just got off a lot.  I'm not sure if I miss it or not.  I can't do it any more.  Orgasm is hard now. I often can't.

A large portion of Tom's sexuality was exhibitionism.  It was about being seen doing those things.  The girlfriend before me made him go private and that was brutally hard for him.  He needs to have a community of fellow "perverts" where he is totally accepted.  That's ok.  I have spent the last seven years trying to figure out how much of it was his exhibitionism and how much was mine.  Because I have some, don't get me wrong.  I like having sex and/or doing bdsm in front of people.  I like knowing that I am what people think about when they masturbate.  My munch friends told me that I was.  It was almost like being a porn model only my adoring fans were my friends.  It worked.

There was a pretty strong D/s contingent in our little community.  Not absolutely everyone practiced D/s (Dominance/submission) but it was common enough that everyone knew everyone else's roles and treated people differently based on their chosen role.  It was "respecting that persons self identity".  Hilarious.  But it was all in good fun.  People drifted away when life or work got busy.  It was remarkably Cheers like.  I miss it, but going now isn't the same.

I have blissfully forgotten most of what I could once rattle off about guns, cars, and computers.  Noah is a software guy, it's a different kind of conversation.  I was used to hardware boys.  Hardware boys that wanted me to dress them up in full latex then tie them up in mostly comfortable positions.  Then they would struggle while I playfully sat on them.  It wasn't all that sexy because I was not willing to make it all that sexy.  I did touch them and cuddle them though.  I talked to them.  I verbally played out their fantasies.  I felt like a force for good.

I keep having a Lady Gaga line go through my head, "In the most Biblical sense, I am beyond repentance/ Fame hooker, prostitute wench, vomits her mind."  I tattooed on my back that I want to forgive myself.  I want forgiveness.  I want forgiveness for everything I do.  Everything I am.  I feel intense conflict about writing the things I write because other people have different perceptions.  Someone else can be part of a conversation with me and remember totally different things and come away with a different impression.  I don't think either of us are "wrong" but we are shaped by our experiences.  We hear the things that affirm our view of the world.  There is a strong attitude that if someone is doing something only meaning the best then it's ok.  They didn't mean for anything bad to happen so they aren't responsible.

No one at the munch did anything bad to me.  They were good friends, actually.  But it was a continuation of the idea that I had to be available sexually.  It's not what they thought.  It's what I thought.  I was surprised how many of the munch crowd came to my birthday party.  In a flash as the song switches to Hair, oh man.  They would all love to still be my friend.  All I have to do is figure out how to spend time with them.  They like me.  They really like me.

Why am I sitting at home crying to Lady Gaga instead of out seeing my friends?  What am I so afraid of?  I'm afraid my children will misbehave and people will think I am a bad parent.  I'm afraid that people expect me to be sexy and I can't be right now.  I'm afraid that if I go out I will feel uncomfortable and bad and I will sit in a corner and no one will talk to me because I have made myself invisible.  I'm afraid that I don't know how to have friendships without sex.  I'm afraid that I don't know how to listen.  I am a bad listener.  I can listen well when there is one other person in the room.  I can't listen in a crowd.  I am too distractible.  I feel like being a bad listener in a crowd makes me a bad friend.  I don't hang out with anyone enough to be able to do comfortable casual party conversation.  I feel awkward.

I sit in my house and invite one person at a time.  We have intense conversations.  I get the impression that the intense conversations at my house are slightly traumatic to some of my friends.  I feel like that when we invite the sensitive, quiet introverts over.

Maybe I should invite some of my guns, cars, and computer boys.  I miss them.  I'd kind of like to know more about them.  I'd like to ask them what they experienced ten years ago.  I'm willing to bet their memory is different from mine.  I bet they didn't think of me as being available sexually.  The thought actually makes me laugh.  I was so nasty with them.  I learned how to taunt.  I felt vulnerable and I showed that vulnerability.  Then I let them know that I am absolutely full grown and here are my steel toed high heels, mother fucker.  I was absolutely one of the nastiest sadists in the group.

Years ago I asked one of them why he never asked me to play again.  He laughed out loud and said, "You are kind of intimidating, you know."  I think that is so funny.  I'm intimidating because I go through life in terror that at any moment someone will hurt me or betray me.  I don't think I should be intimidating.  Let me rephrase.

I don't want to be intimidating.  I want my boundaries to be clear.  I like being easy to get or impossible to get.  I don't want to feel like I am required to sleep with anyone who asks.  I like feeling like it's ok for people to ask.  I go to spaces where that sort of asking is ok.  I don't go on the nights I don't want to be asked.  I don't understand why I am so intimidating when I show up quaking like a scared rabbit.  I like being able to say, "I am really enjoying our flirting, but I need to be clear that this isn't going anywhere." Sometimes when I say that people get angry with me.  One person told me, "Now you ruined everything."  He hasn't flirted with me in years.  I guess he was more interested than me.  I meant that night.  I probably would have been open to being asked out on an actual date.  But sometimes I'm not up for going home with someone after a group social event.  I didn't get adequate personal attention during our brief heavy breathing sessions in a dark corner.  It's a faux pas to be clear.

I'm afraid that I don't know how to talk to people.  I'm too blunt.  I can't observe social niceties.  I'm afraid that the things I say are unacceptable.  I write because these are the things I think about and I can't talk about them.  I want to invite two or three people from the munch era over to my house and ask them to talk about their impression of that time.  I want to know what other people saw of me and my life.  I missed fewer than twenty Wednesdays in four years.  I spent a lot of time around these people.  More time than I have spent in any other social group in my life.  I often know people for longer than that, but I rarely spend a lot of time with people.  I have been alone in a room for most of my life.

Fisher Middle School was the only school I ever attended for two consecutive years as a child.  We moved three times, but I stayed in the same school.  Before I was 18 years old I never had a group of friends for more than two years.  Ever.  I was part of the theatre community in college for almost two years but I ditched them after I broke up with Stephen.  Stephen was already working all over the local community college scene and I knew that staying in the theatre world would mean that I would keep doing the make up/break up thing with him.  I left theatre because I couldn't deal with seeing Stephen and not sleeping with him.

After we broke up I pierced my nipples.  He hadn't let me while we were together.  He also hadn't let me shave my pubic hair.  I did that too.  I uhh went over to visit with him once.  I don't remember why.  I taunted him with the fact that I had done these things.  He wad interested.  I showed him my breasts.  He decided it wasn't all bad.  I didn't sleep with him but it was a close and creepy thing.  Me breaking those taboos was a serious turn on for him.  He's a minister's kid.  He was repressive with me because he was encultrated that way.  He probably could have been more corruptible than I thought he was.  But I didn't want to be the corrupter.  I wanted to be corrupted.  So I ran off into the bdsm world.  And found this weird hobbyist sexuality.

I don't think I really understand this sex business.  I go back and forth in my brain between, "Dude my dad raped me" and "I kind of wish that one guy had asked me to sleep with him..." and "I'm as free as my hair."  I think I look like shit as a blonde.  I should get more blue dye.  I really like the blue.

I'm weird.  I have these things in me that make people uncomfortable.  I blurt things out inappropriately.  And gosh darn it.  People like me.  I think I kind of miss guns, cars, and computers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My bdsm culture

Noah told me last night that part of the problem is, I have a lot of unstated beliefs about how bdsm "should" be done.  But he has no way of going and learning what my beliefs are, nor how to emulate them.  He can't go have a multi-year relationship with Tom to learn those expectations, and Tom is different now anyway.  The Wednesday munch has morphed beyond recognition.  The play parties I used to go to are different.  The time and space that created me is over.

Ok.  Well.  What am I?  I've been reading a lot about my friend Mo's journey towards slavery and I'll say flat out that there is a big part of me that is envious.  I liked being Tom's slave the vast majority of the time. It was a kind of belonging and safety not many other things have given me.  Being married is better, but it's the only bond that has ever felt even close to as safe as being a slave felt.  Even when I was fucking up (which happened a lot) I knew what I was supposed to be doing, saying, and thinking.  I don't have a lot of that sensation in my life.  I constantly feel wrong, bad, misaligned.  I loved having it in my intimate partnership.  I felt a freedom to relax, just go through my set patterns.  I didn't have to think all the time about what I should be doing in order to be "right" for my current environment.

It didn't fucking matter where I was.  I was always his slave.  I had an extensive list of things I was supposed to be doing at all time.  If I wanted to please him I knew how.  It wasn't mercurial.  It was dependable and safe.  It helps that Tom is very easy to please.  He had very low expectations of me and I savaged him for it occasionally.  It bothered me that he didn't want to keep upping the ante.  He wanted to have our M/s relationship and give me direction and then coast.

I don't handle that very well.  I need a lot of notice, attention, and subtle course corrections.  Or I end up on the wrong continent.  I'm not sure I would ever be able to be in an M/s relationship again.  I think about it.  The best circumstances I can imagine for it is that Noah and I will start playing with it in 20 years.  If he still has the energy.  Hell, if I still have the energy.  There are reasons that most of the "interesting" slaves are fairly young.  They also don't tend to stay slaves forever.

There is this constant balance with sustainability.  How much time do you have to devote to various things in your life?  How much energy?  Maybe we will just have weekend flings over the years.  That may be all I am actually up for.

I feel like I am trying to talk myself into what I perceive as Noah's level of interest in bdsm.  I am trying hard to grow in that direction.  My experience of bdsm was that it slowly oozed into every portion of life.  Ok, not work.  But your entire personal life becomes about fostering your "role".  I experienced that even when you switch the physical activities (I topped Tom) you still needed to have most of your soul understand that you were just taking a break.  You were still really a _______.  My experience of bdsm was that scenes take a long time, an hour is a really short scene.  My experience of bdsm is that the goal is to fill as much time as you possibly can with things to do to a person so that they have to just endure it.

Death by a thousand paper cuts.  I don't like bondage that is put on fast and sloppy.  If you only intend the rope to be on for five minutes people don't take the time to ensure that circulation is properly functioning.  It's not as comfortable.  I'm at the stage of life where five minutes of increased discomfort during sex is not a selling point.  Bondage that is put on carefully can be fairly comfortable.  It's not about the discomfort of the rope on your skin.  Here, let's use this lovely silk parachute cord.  It's not about being uncomfortable because the rope is cutting off circulation.  It's about being helpless.

What I like about bondage is for that period of time I am less able to be responsible for myself.  I am less able to be responsible for the people around me.  I love a good hog tie.  I love the gradual increase of pain over time as I fight with the need to stay tense so I can control what position I am in and increasing fatigue as my willpower wears out.  I like taking my willpower to the edge and then losing it and sagging into the rope.  Feeling my breath come shorter and shorter.  Eventually circulation starts to be a problem no matter how well the bondage is done (in most cases, not all) and there is this balance between trying to care for my needs (circulation is a fucking need) and having to trust someone else to be watching and caring for me.

When I dated Tom I was young and stupid.  I didn't know what was going on with my body due to ignorance.  I let him do anything he wanted.  I trusted him.  He broke my arm six weeks into our four year relationship and I still trusted him with absolutely all of my physical safety.  It was something that wasn't my problem.  But as you get older in the scene you discover that as a bottom your physical safety is your own damn problem.  Because other people can't know what is really going on for you.  I miss the freedom of ignorance.  I miss the sensation of not having to be responsible.

I miss the sensation of slowly squirming in rope.  Of knowing that someone wanted to tie me up so that I couldn't get away... and now they just want to sit and look at me.  What are they seeing.  What vulnerability do I have that is so tantalizing he just wants to sit and look at me so much he doesn't want me to be able to deflect his gaze.  I can't get away from being seen any more.  There is an element of pain, but the kind of bondage pain I like (minimal) is just not in the same universe as the kind of impact play (single tails and canes) that I like (intense).

I like bdsm play that is about capturing intensity.  Floggers don't capture intensity to me.  I can't handle them.  They are so much intensity spread out over such a large area that I can't process or breathe or think.  I hate them.  I like bondage because it makes me helpless.  I like playing with the idea of being unable to stop someone from touching me.  That's an intense line for me.  If the bondage is uncomfortable I am pissy about the bondage being uncomfortable.  If the bondage is comfortable I can't evade my own intense internal storm around... oh my god he is touching me.  I can't deflect anything.  I'm perfectly fine and comfortable.... I just can't move.

I'm mixing up talking about roles and actions and that is part of what bothers Noah.  It's hard to figure out which parts are important where and why.  It's hard to make general statements.  I engage in bdsm because I enjoy being helpless, I enjoy taking pain for someone else's enjoyment (this is where Noah doesn't understand why I don't like bondage that is uncomfortable--he enjoys that it is painful), and I like pleasing people.  I can be the do-er or the receiver of pretty much any activity I am comfortable with and be either submissive or dominant.  It really doesn't matter.  The actions are only kind of the point.

I care about energy exchange.  I care about having to watch my tongue because it is the appropriate way for someone in my position to behave.  I have intense negative reactions towards any and all authority.  Of course if I have issues with authority I want to play with that during sex.  I want my lover to be the authority and controlling the environment and my mind set.  Not every time, certainly.  But I like being told what I have to say, feel, and think.  I can absolutely take that and go with it.  I take on roles very well.

Being Tom's slave gave me a buffer between my anxiety of being "right" and every social situation.  I didn't have to worry about being the right Krissy for the social group.  I had to be Tom's slave and if they didn't like it they can fuck right off.  It's a certainty of place.  I go through most of my life feeling like I don't have a certain place.  Like any of my friends or relationships might disappear tomorrow.  I certainly go long enough in between talking to most people that it feels like they disappear.  I spend most of my life in an agony of cycling between why hasn't "a, b, c,....y, z" people contacted me ever again?  They must hate me.  It's personal.  We had that great meet up at a coffee shop two years ago and I haven't heard from them since?  It must be because I am a total asshole and they hate me.  I will now feel awkward and uncomfortable around them at random parties because it all feels personal and like a rejection.

When I was Tom's slave it wasn't about my comfort.  It was about pleasing Tom.  I learned a lot of fairly high functioning social skills because of that pressure.  These days it feels like I can't please anyone, least of all myself.

These days I use being a mom as my compass.  That is my constant pressure.  It's a lot less fun.  Mom is a kill joy.  I'm not pleasing people.  I'm the one who screams at everyone to clean up after themselves and I have to be constantly thinking ahead as to how to balance every crisis.  It sucks.  I am both in control and not in control of everything in my life.  So basically... no one has control.  No one is at the helm.  I don't want to steer for everyone the way Tom steered for me.  And there really isn't anyone who can steer for me.  I have too many different things I have to think about.  No one else tracks them.

If a scene is about causing me pain it is about causing me pain.  If a scene is supposed to be about struggling and helplessness, then I had better not be in pain because I won't think about anything other than being in pain.  Being in pain while I am tied up is far far harder than being in pain when I am unrestrained.  I do not enjoy combining bondage with beatings very much.  I need to be able to move around to process pain.  If bondage is uncomfortable/painful and I can't do anything to move around to adjust the pain I get increasingly frantic.  Being trapped and in pain sucks.  It triggers nasty panic attacks.

I'm as fussy about bondage as I am because most people who tie others up are pretty inconsiderate about incidental pain.  That's not their problem.  I can do bondage scenes that aren't comfortable.  By the end I am almost entirely dissociated.  It was made clear to me that what is going on is I am holding still and letting someone do things that suck to me.  I don't have to be present for that.  It's hard to stay present if someone is inflicting accidental or minor additional discomfort on me.  I feel invalidated.  I feel invisible. I feel like an accessory to the scene they want to be having with an inanimate object who happens to have a pussy.

I developed tastes in accordance with how Tom did bondage.  I have spent the last seven years dealing with the fact that Tom does bondage very differently than most people.  I don't feel safe enough to be emotionally present and vulnerable with most people.  A lot of the reason is I don't trust them.  They hurt me in unintentional ways because they aren't paying attention.  They don't know that 'x' thing will hurt me.  When I mention it in a small way they do not respond how Tom did with instant concern and adjustments.  I feel invisible and invalidated.  Ok fine, I don't need to be here any more.

I can stop feeling what is happening in my body.  When someone does something that is low level uncomfortable in a way I don't like I feel like I have no choice but to stop feeling.  This makes me less and less emotionally available over the years while playing.  It's something that I feel bitter and pissy about.  It is hard to be skilled enough with rope to play the way I want to play.  It feels like obviously it is too much effort to be tied up the way I want to be tied up.  No one does it right from my short, choppy, unhelpful hints and that means I can never have it again.  That part of me is dead.

This all sounds very melodramatic, but it only sort of is.  I know two men who can tie me up without me giving them any pissy little comments.  They have both been tying people up for many hours a week for 20+ years.  If that is what it requires for me to like bondage I need to just give it up.  I should stop taunting myself.  Or maybe I should figure out how to communicate with my husband.  I should start suggesting a lot more often that he practice tying me feet up while I read a book.  That way I'm not nit-picking at him.  He needs to practice and find out what doing it right looks like.

I learned "right" by being tied up for hours and hours every week for years.  When I started learning on Tom I made him wear a blindfold and a gag because he couldn't shut the fuck up and stop telling me what I "should" be doing.  Heh.  I am so hard on Noah.  I treat Noah as if it is a grand betrayal every time he doesn't know something I know.

Ok so there are two separate things.  There is the physical experience and the mental experience.  They really revolve on different axis.  I'm really picky about the physical experience.  At this stage of my life I have experienced enough random pain.  I am not opposed to playing with pain again but I can't deal with undirected pain.  I can't deal with, "Well I want your hands tied up and oops I cut the circulation off, oh well."  Because to me that sounds like, "I don't know what I am doing and I could fuck up your nerve sensation for the rest of your life, but oops, oh well."  I have a friend who ignored that kind of pain.  Last I heard she could barely feel her thumb six years later.  No thank you.  Bondage is taken very lightly by most people.  They only do small amounts of it and they do it for short times.  You can only get away with sloppy bondage if you want to do it for a few minutes and then immediately take it off.

I like long term bondage.  So if someone starts tying me up I immediately have the desire for the physical sensations that come with longer-term bondage.  Discordant feelings ruin the experience for me.  If I know while someone is tying me up that I am on a short timer because I'm already uncomfortable then I never relax and bother to feel anything else that is happening.  I can't focus.  My fucking arms hurt.  No I don't care that you are touching my clit.  It feels frankly fucking irritating.  It's not sexy.  I am focusing on trying not to tap out early because my arms fucking hurt.  I am not focusing on you having fun, asshole.

And part of that is... I haven't been a slave in a long time.  Tom ended our M/s contract in July of 2003.  I haven't done bdsm for someone else's pleasure in a long time.  I do it for mine.  And if it's uncomfortable, you have just lost.  This is where the roles part becomes important.  If I am your slave it is my obligation to take what you want to give and deal with it.  It is also my obligation to ensure that you do not damage me.  No one really wants to break their toys.  Something that people never understood about my relationship with Tom is, most of the snarky feedback that bothered other people was accommodating actual health issues for me.  We just didn't talk about it that way.  We had our snarky dialogue and when I told him that something needed to be adjusted he just did it.  We both knew what we were trying to create together: a bondage scene where I could suffer for as long as possible because the longer I suffered the harder his dick got.  Being in bondage gear for multiple hours was far better than sex for Tom.

We rarely combined sex and bondage.  It feels like discordant energy to me.  The sex moves me around and makes the bondage uncomfortable.  Why am I doing this again?  If all you wanted for me to do was lie in a weird position during sex you could have just told me to do that.  Instead I have to deal with my arms hurting for days.  joy.

This all makes it sound like I'm difficult to play with.  This would be why I just don't bother to do what I consider play any more.  Noah and I have a lot of rough sex.  We rarely have what I really think of as "scenes" and I don't play with anyone else.

My bdsm is an adjunct to my sex life.  It's not really part of it.  And for the last few years I've been focused on trying to meet Noah's sexual needs and he doesn't have a similar approach to play.  So we just don't play.  It's not that he doesn't want to play.  It's that the ways he plays feel weird/wrong to me and I don't know how to adjust.  It feels too rough.  Too unfocused.  Too much too fast.  Or not enough. I can never decide.

He's not Tom.  I don't know how to get over this.  I haven't ever really played with anyone over a long period other than Tom.  He is still 90% + of my bdsm experience.  I am still attuned to his playing.  I don't know how to change that.  I don't know what is my wants and what is his.  I don't know how to be in accord with Noah.

Part of the problem is that Noah is dealing with such a deficit of sex and fun energy that he can't muster much for the kinds of scenes I like.  It's just a fact.  Today is Folsom.  I won't be going.  I will stay home again this year with my kids.  I will feel left out and excluded from that community.  I will feel invisibile and unimportant.  Which is stupid.  I'm not invisible or unimportant, I'm just busy.  Folsom is not the place to take either of my kids.

A lot of why this is so hard is because I don't know how to fit into bdsm culture without a role.  I don't have one any more.  I'm not open to anything.  It's not even that I would turn down people who asked to play if anyone had the cajones.  I'd probably say yes.  If they asked on the right day in the right way and I was in the right mood.  Ha.  I kind of feel like it would be stupid to do it though.  I know before I start playing that I will be disappointed.  Because no one else plays like Tom.  I miss our play.  I miss those physical sensations.  I miss having someone be that kind of attentive to my body.

I feel terrible guilt for writing that.  It sounds so dismissive of Noah.  Noah is a better partner in every way.  He is a better lover.  But he's not my Owner.  Noah doesn't think of me as a piece of property.  I'm sure feminists everywhere rejoice.  I kind of think that is the problem though.  Noah thinks of me as an autonomous human being who should be doing everything for myself.  And while I'm at it, here's his laundry.  I did Tom's laundry too, but it was different.  I wasn't just doing the fucking laundry.  I was serving my Owner and there were consequences if I did it wrong.  My work was examined.  He cared what I was doing.  He paid attention to me, at least early on before he got sick of it.

The intensity of being a slave is hard to explain.  Any time I felt lazy or wanted to procrastinate I had the lead club of, "I am not allowed to disappoint my Owner."  And I didn't either.  I had a very clear set of expectations to meet.  If I met those then I was magically ok.  I was magically right.  I was magically pleasing.  If I didn't meet expectations on a given day there was a clear course for making amends and restitution.  I felt secure in my behavior, attitude, and words.  I was pleasing my Owner.

Noah wants me to make myself happy.  While he's standing nearby doing whatever makes him happy.  It's a lot of pressure by contrast.  I am constantly having to decide for myself what my priorities are.  I have to decide my task list.  When I make my task list it is overly hard, stressful, and shitty.  At the end of the day I feel like I didn't do enough even if I did more than three other people.  I have no standard to meet.  So I can never be done.  I never feel a relief of the pressure.  I have never done enough work.  I am always failing.  I have never found that magical combination of things I am "supposed" to do to keep Noah happy.

I believe that people who tell me they don't want me to "make" them happy are liars.  They are just making the game harder and harder.  They want to have extensive deniability around why they will abandon me later because "things just didn't work out".  People always have expectations.  They are lying pieces of shit if they claim otherwise.  Even if their expectation is, "I'd like you to only talk about 'a, b, and c' when we are in person because I get enough of 'd' from your blog."  They are never willing to say that out loud.  But they get pissy and snippy when I get to 'd'.  The secret to happiness is low expectations.  Every time Noah says that I want to beat him over the head with a baseball bat because having low expectations really just means that you like to move the target on me.

From day to day Noah is pleased by different things.  On many days what pleased him yesterday will cause him to be snippy today.  It's probably a mild version of what it is like to live with me.  (See, always with the self-denigration.)  Him telling me that he has low expectations means that from day to day I don't know what will set him off.  It's like a time bomb.  Some days he comes in and doesn't care if it looks like a bomb went off in the living room.  Other days he comes in huffy and stomping and I feel like I am a terrible pathetic person for shirking in my duties.  I must never rest again.

What I miss about M/s the most is that I knew what was expected of me at all times in all places in all ways.  I couldn't always meet it and that caused different problems.  I spend most of my time lately feeling anxious because I don't know what is expected of me.  What I should be doing.  I can never do enough to make me or anyone else happy.  I am always failing because there is no way to not-fail.  There is no alternative in my life.

Other than increasing my apathy.  If I dramatically increase my apathy then I don't care that I feel like I am failing everyone.  They can fuck off.

I'm not sure this is better.